VICTORIA has reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 community transmission, as thousands cut short their NSW holidays in a mad dash to get home ahead of borders shutting overnight.
The 10 new cases recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday (Friday, January 1) are all linked to the Black Rock restaurant cluster, with another two cases that had travelled to NSW and returned to quarantine in Victoria.
The Victorian outbreak has been directly linked to the NSW cluster revealed in genetic testing results today (Saturday, January 2).
Health Minister Martin Foley made no apologies this morning for closing the border to its neighbouring state and said it was based on public health advice.
He said it had caused widespread disruption for returning travellers and would continue to do so for the border communities.
“I acknowledge the significant disruption and the significant implications that that has made.”
He said it had become a significant issue for Victoria with 29 active cases now in isolation across the state.
Victoria’s COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said people who arrived in Victoria before the hard border closure would be watched closely.
“We are already in contact with everybody who crossed the border in the last couple of days and we will continue to follow up with those individuals to ensure that they understand their isolation requirements and they understand they need to get tested.
“We will be watching very closely for the test results to come through our systems to ensure that everyone has done the right thing.”
He said authorities were yet to identify the individual connection between the New South Wales outbreak and Victoria.
“That work continues at this point. We have a number of individuals that we are obviously following up very closely to understand their travel patterns and their close contacts and secondary contact to establish that breach.
“What I think at the end of the day is we are all, both in New South Wales and Victoria, dealing with one outbreak.”
The southern state’s border decision on Thursday prompted traffic bottlenecks as people raced to beat the Friday midnight closure.
Once in Victoria, COVID-19 testing sites saw long queues as travellers lined up for mandatory testing.
Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania have all further hardened their borders as a result of fresh cases in recent days.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he respected the decisions of state and territory leaders to shut their borders but understood why people had been left frustrated.
The federal government had aimed for Australia to be fully open by Christmas, a plan dashed by the COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.
For the latest updates on restrictions, head to dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.